Saturday, 9 June 2007

Only Two Games?

I believe that it was Norman St. John Stevas who first coined the nickname 'TINA' for Margaret Thatcher. For her, there was never any alternative. What she said was right, by definition.

Of course, what she meant was not that there were really no alternatives - there always are - but that she simply wasn't prepared to accept them. And thus is the way of many politicians, it would seem.

Even the often erudite Adam Price, Plaid MP for Carmarthen East, is not immune to this disease. Writing on the latest situation in the Assembly on his blog, he says that:

"There are only two games in town - a rainbow or red/green. There is no Third Option."

Anyone believe that? No, not even Adam himself, for in the very next sentence, he gives us another option, namely:

"Remaining in Opposition in perpetuity may be a comforting thought for some in the party, but will make us look weak and ineffectual and lacking the courage of our convictions."

Perhaps if he wrote a few more sentences, he might discover even more options - the only thing of which we can be certain is that any option which diverts him from his chosen course along the rainbow will be dismissed.

But his verbal sleight of hand is even cleverer that that, of course. At a stroke, he dismisses anyone who disagrees with him as wanting to remain 'in opposition in perpetuity'. If you can't play the ball, play the man.

But the question is this - if minority government is OK, nay desirable even, under Alex Salmond in Scotland, why is it so necessarily unstable in Wales? If it works for the largest party today, couldn't it also work for a different largest party in the future? Or is Mr Price implicitly accepting that Plaid will never be the largest party in Wales?

7 comments:

Ordovicius said...

Welcome to the blogosphere ;)

Ordovicius said...

if minority government is OK, nay desirable even, under Alex Salmond in Scotland, why is it so necessarily unstable in Wales?

That's politics! But there are substantial differences in the two situations as to the agendas of the opposition parties.

gwe said...

Under the present system it would indeed be quite a feat for Plaid to become the largest party, as Labour hold so many directly-elected seats. In this last election, for example, Labour's 31% of the total vote gained them 43% of the seats.

Even accounting for a Labour Party meltdown to say an unprecidented total vote of 28, or even 25 per cent, I can't see Labour's share of AMs falling to below 20, due to the regional top up system. Plaid would do remarkably well to get close to 20, even with 30% plus of the vote. Remember, in 1999, Plaid's total vote almost 30%, gaining 'only' 17 seats.

In any case, any Labour meltdown under the present system would, in future, undadoubtably result in more Conservative AMs, which would make this task even harder.

In an enlarged Senedd, a proper parliament with a more equitable PR system, then, yes, Plaid could well become the largest party if the conditions were right.

Silurian said...

GWE!

Plaid total percentage of the vote was 25%, whilst Labour's was 43%.

Even under PR Labour is still the largest single party in Wales.

That means that PC has a long way to go, even to catch up with their 1999 percentage.

And when you say with 30% of the vote they only gained 17 seats. Well that sounds about right. Since 30% is less than a 1/3 of the seats.

As long as the Labour Party has the money, they will take some beating.

Silurian said...

Ceredig! welcome and Croeso!

Ceredig said...

Thanks to Ordovicious and gwe for the comments.

I accept, of course, that the political agenda in Scotland is different, and also that, under present conditions, it will be difficult for Plaid to become the largest party in the Assembly.

However, the more general point is that if being the largest party in Scotland (by barely one seat) confers democtratic legitimacy on the SNP to lead a minority government, why does not the same principle apply in Wales, where the Labour party has a lead, not of one seat, but of 11 over its nearest rival? And in fact, where Labour is only one seat short of having as many seats as the next two parties combined?

Ordovicius said...

However, the more general point is that if being the largest party in Scotland (by barely one seat) confers democtratic legitimacy on the SNP to lead a minority government, why does not the same principle apply in Wales,

It's not the case that SNP have legitimacy because they are the largest party. The fact is that the Lib Dems do not want to form a coalition with Labour in Holyrood.